The Dish List: Coffeebar Byul
What: Coffeebar Byul
Where: 2750 Alton Pkwy Irvine, 92606
How Much: $4-10
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
There’s something extra exciting about discovering a new coffee shop during midterms week. After seeing several friends checking in at a foreign coffee place, my taste buds were pretty ready for a cup of joe that would keep me awake during late-night studies. But really, I just like the idea of sipping coffee slowly and pretending there’s actually no midterm tomorrow.
Consider what Anteaters have around us within traveling distance. There’s Kean Coffee in Newport, Lost Bean in Tustin and Vitaly and Portola’s Theorem in Costa Mesa. We’re familiar with coffee shops having their own special niches with coffee varieties and unique decor. What’s appealing more to students, though, is a coffee shop as a place to study. The music, space and comfort level have to be right, as our standards for a good study place have risen over the years.
Within two miles from UCI, Coffeebar Byul is located at the Diamond Jamboree Plaza, where there are many things except for cafés devoted exclusively to coffee. But now, the plaza is finally complete.
Byul, as I find out, means “star” in Korean. Enjoying the decor, I looked up and discover the star-shaped wires hanging from the ceiling have little light bulbs attached, giving out a comfortable level of lighting into the shop.
One thing that made me instantly fall in love with this place was definitely the decor. The big glass windows, rustic feel of lighting and flooring, and West-elm-like interior create a very clean look that allows a lot of sunlight to brighten up the room during the daytime. The designer played with textures and colors of different woods by combining them together. The result is a subtle vibrancy, balanced with its white walls and shelves. The chairs and tables are placed beside walls and glass windows, creating a clutter-less space that relieves stress.
The cafe has an interesting, one-of-a-kind selection of coffee and tea, along with the wonderful delicacies from Cream Pan that never disappoint. As a lover of Cream Pan’s desserts, I have to admit that their strawberry croissants are one of the best. The fresh strawberry embedded in a crisp croissant is perfect with the slightly sweet cream inside.
After reading some reviews on Yelp, I made up my mind to order the dark chocolate mocha.
The mocha came out fairly quickly in a medium coffee mug, the only size they offer. Warm and rich, the dark chocolate mocha was smooth and contained just enough bitterness and sweetness. I also appreciate that it had no sour taste, as some coffees do. Just when I began to wonder why their coffees tasted so good, I saw the labels on their bags of coffee beans — they’re using Kean’s coffee for brewing.
I returned to Byul again and could not resist trying something different. Their Hong-Kong-style milk tea is fairly authentic, although a little sweeter than I expected. One funny coffee I found on the menu is called the Gangnam Style, and according to the manager, it’s a rich, strong coffee that can wake you up. In addition to coffee, they also provide different iced teas, cold-brewed teas and matcha green tea. If you want some warm food, try the ham and cheese croissant. Ask them to warm it up for you and you’ll find the cheese melted into the croissant a minute after.
With light music in the background and a spacious interior, Coffeebar Byul has a large table that can sit eight people, a long table for six and eight small tables which sit 16. In total, the cafe can house 30 all in once, but luckily I have not felt crowded in there.
The downside of this place is the price of drinks. My mocha cost five dollars. And for most of the coffees and teas, the price is above the average you get from other places. I think it’s worth it for the kind of ambiance you get in this cafe, but I wouldn’t visit every week.
Nevertheless, it can’t get any nicer to wake up early once in a while and enjoy a cup of coffee before school.